Last weekend, we heard John Morris, Station Manager of Spirit FM 90.5, talk about the good work made possible at the Diocesan radio station because of the funding it receives from the Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA). As I mentioned last weekend, All Saints does an educational segment each year at the beginning of the APA campaign. The educational weekend is followed each year by my request for your support of the Annual Pastoral Appeal.
This year, I’m just not ready for one more major project. I am capable of attending to one major project at a time. As you know, we are in the process of replacing the roofs on our two buildings. Thus far, we’ve received a very generous response to my request for donations toward the roof replacement; the roof replacement is now fully funded. Last week, the contractor submitted a Notice of Commencement to the City; I hope that a Building Permit will be issued soon.
The roofing project is moving along well, but I’m not ready to take on another major project such as the Annual Pastoral Appeal. If I had to take a guess, I would guess that you are not ready to support another major project right now. If you find yourself in that frame of mind, take heart; we are in good company.
Each of the three Scripture readings that comprise our Liturgy of the Word this weekend contains a vocational call. In the first reading, Isaiah sees a vision of the heavenly kingdom. In the second reading, Paul recounts his call to be an apostle to the gentiles. In the Gospel, Simon Peter is called to leave behind his old life and take up the new vocation of adding to the number of Jesus’ disciples.
In each case, the vocational call is accompanied by resistance on the part of the person called. Isaiah responds that he is “a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” (Isa. 6:5) Paul says about himself, “I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:9) Peter responds to the miraculous catch of fish by saying, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” (Lk. 5:8)
None of these above were ready for the task to which God called them; such is the nature of life. Most married couples, after having been married for a few years, readily admit that they were not at all prepared for the struggles of married life. Parents realize very quickly that they are unprepared for the challenges of parenting. In Catholicism, we baptize infants who aren’t ready for baptism, we give Holy Communion to Second Graders who aren’t ready to understand what Eucharist means, and we confirm Eighth Graders who aren’t ready for yet another Sacrament.
Life in this world, and the life of faith, are experiences which no one is really prepared to undertake, and yet we do so as an act of faith.
Success is very often considered to be the result of adequate planning and preparation. In many situations, this is true. Students are successful at passing tests when they are adequately prepared to do so. People are successful at a career when properly prepared for the demands of their chosen field. In relationships, however, success is a result of willingness more than preparedness. This is true in relationships such as marriage and parenting, and equally true of the faith relationship with God. The three central characters in today’s Scripture readings were successful at accomplishing God’s will because of their willingness. Individually, each of them expressed misgivings about his ability, but each followed God’s will despite feelings of inadequacy.
Our parish life at All Saints is just like your home life. The appliances in your home don’t schedule their breakdowns and malfunctions in an orderly fashion that is easy for you to address. In a similar way, we have an annual campaign following too closely on the heels of a major maintenance project.
I’m not really ready for APA to follow so closely after the need for a new roof, but neither am I concerned about the outcome. We have the cost of the roof covered already; now we have to address one more major task. I would ask those of you who contributed to APA last year to repeat last year’s pledge or gift for the 2019 campaign. If you didn’t contribute to APA last year, I would ask you to give prayerful consideration to doing so this year.
Isaiah, Paul, and Peter were willing to be led by God, even in the absence of advance knowledge of the results. When you find yourself challenged to greater faith or increased virtue, remember that you’re in the company of Prophets and Saints who depended, not on their personal readiness, but on their willingness to trust God.